News Release

FBI’s New Plan to Spy on Students: General Repression, Muslims as Targets

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.25.42 AMSarah Lazare reports for AlterNet in “The FBI Has a New Plan to Spy on High School Students Across the Country,” that: “Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and ‘western corruption’ as potential future terrorists, warning that ‘anarchist extremists’ are in the same category as ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to ‘suspicious’ countries are more likely to commit horrific violence.

“Based on the widely unpopular British ‘anti-terror’ mass surveillance program, the FBI’s ‘Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools’ guidelines [PDF], released in January, are almost certainly designed to single out and target Muslim-American communities. However, in its caution to avoid the appearance of discrimination, the agency identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if she is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken.

“This overwhelming threat is then used to justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.”

ARUN KUNDNANI, arun at kundnani.org, @ArunKundnani
Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and a lecturer at New York University.

He said today: “The document aims to encourage schools to monitor their students more carefully for signs of radicalization but its definition of radicalization is vague. Drawing on the junk science of radicalization models, the document dangerously blurs the distinction between legitimate ideological expression and violent criminal actions.

“In practice, schools seeking to implement this document will end up monitoring Muslim students disproportionately. Muslims who access religious or political material will be seen as suspicious, even though there is no reason to think such material indicates a likelihood of terrorism.”

“The belief system of the Islamophobes,” and other of his writings are available at Kundnani’s website. He was featured last year on the Institute for Public Accuracy news release, “Trump’s Islamophobia is Tip of Iceberg.” See an interview of his on CNN.